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Thread: Wish I had done research before selecting 'XXX" for our wedding

  1. #1
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    Unhappy Wish I had done research before selecting 'XXX" for our wedding

    When it came time to plan our small, intimate wedding in Aruba, I decided to go with XXX. I had been visiting the island since 1992 with my family so Aruba held a large place in my heart.

    As I began communicating with Indira a year before our wedding, she was prompt, professional and attentive. I had sent along pictures of our dream set up which consisted of a ceremony on the beach, followed by a long dinner table setup for our guests, with no reception as there were only going to be a handful of people

    I had sent along some pictures of a long table, with a canopy over it with string lights and drapes. She said that would cost extra and I awaited our quote. After a few weeks, she sent back a quote that included the basics. We were headed to the island to plan my sister wedding at Manchebo, so we stopped in to meet with XXX at the Costa Linda. She went over our basic quote, said she was still working on pricing for the dinner table, but we gave her 50% of our current total. A few weeks later, she followed up with a quote that said ‘dinner table setup, string lights and white drapes’. I was pleased to see it was a reasonable price so I agreed and time moved on.

    About 3 months out we had our first skype call with XXX. She was going over our setup and mentioned that the string lights and drapes would be set up under grape trees. I was confused and let her know that we didn’t want to be setup under trees as I know how mosquitos can be in Aruba. She said the canopy we had asked for would be an additional $1500 (this is just for the poles, drapes, and lights). Knowing what we were already spending with her, I was bummed and said we’ll skip on the string lights and drapes all together, as I’d rather have tiki torches than be under grape trees. She let us know lighting would be slim for our guests, but our eyes would adjust.

    We were also having our civil ceremony in Aruba, so it was necessary to gather our all paperwork for the island requirements ahead of time. I let her know we would get those together and email her copies before we got our apostille seals. I wanted to make sure the documents were correct before we spent the money here in CT to pay for the seals. We had everything ready but my husband’s current passport so as soon as that came in the mail I emailed copies over. Once I got the green light, we would go ahead with the seals. Once again, she was prompt, answered all my questions, and let me know everything looked good. We went ahead and got our seals and dropped all our originals off to XXX next time we were on the island. She told us she would be out of the office, so to leave the copies with the front desk. The next day she let us know she had received them so we were all set. She would drop them at the town hall and would let me know if any changes had to be made. After a month or two, I panicked realizing I never made copies so I emailed her a few times. She wrote back saying no worries, she had them. Kind of avoiding my question if she could make copies for me but assuring me everything would be fine.

    Fast forward to May, we are so excited, boarding our flight to Aruba for our wedding week. May 2nd, flying from Charlotte, we got to chatting with a woman who had the window seat in our row. I was anxiously chatting her ear off and she kindly was chatting with us too. She asked why we were headed to Aruba and when we replied ‘to get married’, she smiled. Angela was in the industry herself, as an event planner, and a photographer. I told her who our planner was and she was very kind assuring me the day would be beautiful. I started to vent to her a little, I knew everything would be fine but there were some bumps in the road with InXX along the way that I thought maybe I was just over thinking. From that moment, Angela and I became family…

    Item 1 was the mishap with the set up I wanted. I was bummed as I mentioned about the cost. Angela asked to see pictures and seemed shocked our quote was as much as it was for my dream setup but I said I had agreed to have tiki torches. She knew the owner of the rental company, Letz Aruba, that is almost always used and said shed talk with her to see if she had a wedding on my scheduled date and would see what we could do.

    I had let her know there were a few times I had asked XXX things and she wasn’t always warm and friendly. I told her I really wanted ruscus down the center of my table and she just let me know we couldn’t possibly as its too windy. I accepted that. I requested to used Roberto Modesto for my flowers since he did my sister’s wedding and they were SO beautiful. She told me she had her own vendor which is who he gets his flowers from so we would not be using him. I also accepted that. I requested my sisters hair and makeup artist, to which she replied ‘she is much more expensive then who I use’ I told her that was ok, I really wanted to use JenniV. I let her know I had already booked Jenni independently and she could take hair and makeup off my quote. Come to find out, Jenni was almost 50 dollars CHEAPER than the hair and makeup XXX had on my quote.

    I also was mentioning how my dad passed unexpectedly a few years ago, and I wanted a table with his picture at the ceremony and reception. I asked XXX for one I saw in her pictures, and she said ‘we are using a different vendor, we can put it on the cake table’. I politely agreed and didn’t want to cause problems but once again, was kind of bummed.

    Angela and I exchanged contact information, and she asked me all sorts of questions. Who my vendors were for my setup, who was my officiant, if I had a videographer, if I had a bouquet for the civil ceremony, who was bringing us to the civil ceremony, if Indira would be there, and better yet, if I even knew where the town hall was. I started to realize I really had no idea! XXX never asked if I needed a bouquet for the civil ceremony, or if we wanted transportation, just told us to show up May 9th at 10am at the town hall. In the back of my mind, I kept thinking about my dream setup and canopy so I was going to ask XXX if Letz Aruba was our vendor. I also hadn’t even thought about a videographer. Angela gave me the name of Ingmar Maduro and for a great price, he joined our wedding to make it even more memorable.

    Angela’s family also owns the ‘buccaneer’ restaurant in Aruba which I hadn’t visited since I was a little girl. I told my mom and husband we should check it out since its been so long. Our 2nd night into the trip, we headed to the Buccaneer. I sent Angela a message to which she replied, ‘im having a meeting with some vendors near the restaurant, swing by!’ She happened to be meeting with the owner of Letz Aruba, Arlette, and an officiant on the island, Geoffrey Banfield, who is well known for being funny and full of life. Unfortunately, she wasn’t doing a wedding on May 9th but looked at the canopy I wanted and said ‘if that’s what youd really like, I could help you out’ and gave me a price that was SO reasonable. I was meeting with XXX the next day and was hoping Letz Aruba was my vendor but it didn’t sound like that was the case after speaking with Arlette, the owner.

    Heading into our meeting at Costa Linda, the whole dynamic of this wedding process changed. I mentioned that I had met Arlette, and she had said she would do the canopy for a much lower price than IXXX quoted me. She got very defensive, saying ‘I am already booked with Letz Aruba for your wedding and I know nothing about this’. Of course, she didn’t, I had just spoke with Arlette last night. But I was SO confused. Arlette told me she had no wedding on May 9th. What was going to happen here? I’m now 3 days away and my supposed vendor doesn’t have anything booked?? XXX told me that she deals with Arlettes assistant Mila, and Mila and Arlette do not communicate. My husband said ‘isnt that strange’, and XXX replied, ‘that’s just the way they operate’. XXX assured me Letz Aruba was doing my setup, and she would need to talk to Mila about my price from Arlette. She picked up the phone, talked to Mila in Papiamento and hung up and told us that Mila knows nothing about this so if this is what I want, Arlette can do the whole thing. She would not have her team come in if Arlette would be providing the canopy. Once again, this all made no sense to me, if Arlettes company was providing my entire setup, what was the big deal to add an additional item?? I then asked who the officiant was and she responded ‘John, and has already been paid and I can’t cancel him now’ I was just wondering if it was Geoffrey Banfield who everyone seems to love. I didn’t even ask if we could change it.

    After that moment, XXX was short, angry, and clearly did not want us there. She ran down the items on my quote and said we’d be in touch. She asked us what room we were in for the flowers and that was it. I asked if we could go out to the beach to see exactly where we would be married. We walked through the resort in silence, and I started to cry. She was angry at us as if we did something wrong. She pointed to the beach, said ‘there’ and then I started to apologize. I didn’t want tension and I didn’t know what I did to upset her. We left and headed to our car, halfway there I ran back because XXX never even told me what time to be there on my wedding day. Now headed back to meet the videographer for a meet and greet. I sent Angela a message and asked for Arlettes number. I needed to know what was going on!

    Arlette said she’d meet me in our hotel lobby in a half hour. As we showed up to meet the videographer, Arlette, Geoffrey and Angela all showed up. Arlette explained that when XXX called Mila, Mila let her know that they simply provided XXX a quote, and XXX never got back to them and decided to go with a different vendor (even though she assured me Letz Aruba was all booked) We had been lied to and I was extremely unhappy. As I’m sitting with Arlette, XXX is messaging me saying that she just has to speak with Arlette about the canopy and will let me know the outcome.

    What was really happening (since I was sitting right there) was that XXX was trying to book Arlette last minute in a panic. Arlette explained to XXX that she never responded to their quote and had opted for a different vendor. XXX then called me saying, you need to do this all through Arlette and have our guests drag their own chairs to the dinner table because there will be no team there to move them, or I have to go all with XXX. Arlette assured me her team would be there to do everything. I knew I had already paid XXX and couldn’t back out. Arlette spoke with XXX as I was there and said ‘we need to come together and make this work for the sake of the reputation of the island and weddings here’. Arlette pulled together my dream wedding. She went above and beyond to give me what I had wanted all along. I had little communication with Indira after that.

    I spoke with my photographer, and the videographer who assured me Arlette is the best at what she does and when she says it will get done, it will get done.

    XXX never showed up at my civil ceremony. Angela bought me a bouquet. Arlette picked us and our witnesses up and stayed with us the whole ceremony and drove us home. Arlette made sure copies were made of our ceremony documents. Which XXX said she would leave at the front desk. We went down to our front desk and they had no idea what we were talking about. I panicked again, called XXX, no answer. Finally, I went down to the desk again and spoke with a woman who pulled us aside saying that she had them but was not supposed to have confidential paperwork. She said XXX dropped them off and was very rude, saying she had to leave them there. She tried to explain to XXX she could not hold onto paperwork like this but took them for us because she knew they were important. XXX could have just reached out to me and I would have walked down to the lobby.

    For 2 days I had been messaging, emailing, and calling XXX to find out what time my flowers were coming, she never responded. Angela reached out to the vendor who let her know they’d been picked up earlier in the day. When they showed up, my maid of honors bouquet was all wilted. The hydrangeas were dead. My mother’s wrist corsage was huge and had no way of being tied on. My bouquet was beautiful so no complaints there. My hydrangeas were still living so I guess that was a win in my book. Regardless, my sisters flowers at her wedding just set a high standard I suppose.

    I didn’t think XXX would be at the beach ceremony honestly. I showed up about 5 minutes late due to typical wedding day chaos, and as I stepped out of the taxi at Costa Linda, her first words were ‘you are late’ but then she put on a smile, told me where to be and what to do, and did keep the evenings events moving. My guests said she was pleasant and kind to them before I arrived. I thanked her, and she let us know we could put this all behind us (in her eyes)

    My setup turned out to be beautiful thanks to Arlette and her team that showed up to set up, break down, and arrange my tables just as I had dreamed. My string light canopy was out of a fairy tale. Geoffrey (the officiant we had wanted) contacted John who was supposed to do our wedding and let him know he would do the ceremony for no cost. Angela showed up to help Arlette and make sure that our wedding day was just as we described, snapping some extra candid pictures here and there. There was no dragging chairs as Indira told me we would have to. Arlette provided a second set of chairs at no cost. These people who started off as strangers gave up hours upon hours to make our day perfect. The food at Costa Linda’s Waters Edge was amazing, and the service was the utmost best. The owner came out to congratulate us and to let us know if there was anything additional we needed. So many people came together to make our wedding day special.

    Maybe this was all a coincidence. If I had a different seat on that plane I never would have met Angela. Whatever vendor Indira had originally had would have done our wedding, would have set up the table with tiki torches and our eyes would have adjusted. As most brides review, they love their experience with her. I think fate somehow stepped in. What were the chances I would meet the vendor that Indira claimed to be using?

    Regardless, my experience with her was not an enjoyable one. If I could do it over again I would have done more research, used different vendors and been more involved. All the questions Angela asked on the plane, I should have had answers to before arriving on the island.

    Crooze Photography took our pictures. They came out gorgeous as they always do. They are a blast to work with and I had my pictures back In 2 weeks. An absolute fairytale. Ingmar Maduro was the videographer. He hung around the night we all met in the lobby to make sure things got taken care of. We cant wait to see our video. Geoffrey Banfield our officiant who made our ceremony so memorable and personable, even speaking of my late father. Angela took us out the next morning for a trash the dress session. She didn’t want anything from it. Just knew we had a bad experience and wanted to do anything she could to make our wedding special. The pictures are stunning. These people who I hadn’t met in my 20 years coming to the island, all came together to fix our wedding day. They gave up their personal time just because they are kind, caring, and most importantly to note, talented.

    I’d avoid the experience at XXX, and I will also be letting the Costa Linda know. I ended up spending quite a lot of money with XXX, and I’m not really sure I got much out of it. At the end of the day, these new friends made my day perfect, and I’ll never be able to say enough wonderful things about them or express quite how much they mean to me. Just another reason I will continue to keep coming back to Aruba…this time, with new friends! Thank you Letz Aruba (Arlette), Geoffrey Banfield, Crooze Photography, Bella Aruba planning and photography (Angela), Perry Frank Tjon (Dr. Coco) for our tropical drinks that our guests LOVED and of course for being a life long friend, Ingmar Maduro – Iluzion Studio, and Waters Edge.
    Last edited by Andrea J.; 07-03-2018 at 10:44 AM. Reason: XXX edits per request of the Aruba Toruism Authority
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  2. #2
    Aruba since 1979
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    Oh boy what a story!

    I am so happy to read that all turned out well.

    I am guessing that God and or your guardian angel put Angela Munzenhofer in that seat near you on the plane!
    She is a great lady, a hard worker and as honest as they come.

    Welcome to the Aruba.com community forum.

    Best Wishes to you for a long and happy marriage.
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  3. #3
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    Angela is great, she was the photographer for my stepdaughter's wedding and also a friend of ours. Actually she saved our stepdaughter's wedding, too, but that is another story...

  4. #4
    Super Moderator Jacki's Avatar
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    I am so happy there was someone looking out for you on your wedding day! Your dad perhaps?

    Thank you very much for sharing your story. I hope this will help future brides.

    Will you share a picture (or 10 ) of your special day?

    Welcome to the Aruba.com Community Forum!



    Jacki ~ loving Aruba from NJ
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  5. #5
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    Wow! Just an amazing turn of events and I would bet that your Dad was your guardian angel saving your special day for you. I wish you a long,happy marriage!
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  6. #6
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    of course! I will share as many as it lets me! thank you all for the kind words. I really believe my dad was watching over us. Wish I had done research before selecting 'XXX" for our wedding-elise-taylor-092-jpg
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  7. #7
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    Wish I had done research before selecting 'XXX" for our wedding-elise-taylor-182-jpgWish I had done research before selecting 'XXX" for our wedding-elise-taylor-175-jpgWish I had done research before selecting 'XXX" for our wedding-elise-taylor-206-jpgWish I had done research before selecting 'XXX" for our wedding-elise-taylor-211-jpgWish I had done research before selecting 'XXX" for our wedding-elise-taylor-240-jpg
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  8. #8
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    Wish I had done research before selecting 'XXX" for our wedding-dsc_6708-jpgWish I had done research before selecting 'XXX" for our wedding-elise-taylor-242-jpgWish I had done research before selecting 'XXX" for our wedding-dsc_6610-jpgWish I had done research before selecting 'XXX" for our wedding-dsc_6557-jpg
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  9. #9
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    Wish I had done research before selecting 'XXX" for our wedding-elise-taylor-217-jpgWish I had done research before selecting 'XXX" for our wedding-elise-taylor-213-jpgWish I had done research before selecting 'XXX" for our wedding-elise-taylor-212-jpgWish I had done research before selecting 'XXX" for our wedding-elise-taylor-016-jpg
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  10. #10
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    wow beautiful photos
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